Elmer Kay Montgomery
Elmer Kay Montgomery of Boise died Saturday afternoon, October 19, 2013, at the age of 84. He passed peacefully at his home on the living room couch with family and hospice present.
Kay was born August 14, 1929, in Kooskia, Idaho, the only child of Elmer and Evelyn (Tefft) Montgomery. At the time of his birth, his paternal grandparents resided in Stites, Idaho, and his maternal grandparents on a homestead near Winchester. Kay's mother was a school teacher in Kooskia and his father a carpenter, eventually learning surveying from the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mountains surrounding the Clearwater, Lochsa and Selway rivers. The family's love of the outdoors, and government opportunities for work in the 1930s and post World War II, provided a foundation for Kay's lifetime interest in architectural engineering and construction.
After graduating from Kooskia High School in 1946, Kay attended the University of Idaho and completed a degree in Architecture. There he connected with a Kooskia classmate, June McHone, and they married. The couple moved to Renton, Washington, briefly, where Kay worked for Pacific Car Foundry. Soon they returned to Lewiston, with two young daughters, where Kay's parents had moved also, for their retirement years and to be nearer their son's family. Kay began his long-time engineering career with the State of Idaho Highway Dept.
During his years in Lewiston, Kay and June had two more girls, and settled into a typical 1950s -1960s lifestyle, with Dad going to work on various highway and bridge projects around north central Idaho, and Mom caring for kids and running the house. There were frequent visits to Kay's parents' home in the Lewiston Orchards on weekends, or to June's parents' ranch on Tahoe Ridge out of Kooskia.
Kay earned the designation of Licensed Professional Engineer in 1960 and eventually taught continuing education classes for other engineering students. During the 1960s, when Kay was in his early 30s, he became project engineer on many landmark construction projects surrounding the Lewiston area. The first was the present-day Spalding Bridge, spanning the Clearwater River. Included in the project was the traffic interchange for Highways 12 and 95 at the north end of the bridge, and a rebuild of U.S. 95 to Lapwaii.
In the mid to late 1960s, Kay was transferred to Grangeville to become project engineer on the new highway on White Bird Hill, and for construction of the Slate Creek Bridge and U.S. 95 project near Riggins. When the bridge at Slate Creek was finished, the State Highway Department earned a national merit award for aesthetic design from the Institute of Steel Construction, in approximately 1970.
The Whitebird Hill project, begun in 1964, continued for 10 years. It replaced the previous switch-backed, two lane roadway up the canyon, including a super structure bridge that connects the Camas Prairie with Salmon River Country at Whitebird. Kay was the project engineer in Grangeville for all of that time period, and contributed many professional hours to these highway projects.
Kay and June eventually divorced, and he later married Lasetta Taylor Bayliss of Whitebird. The two met in Grangeville and raised 3 more children. In 1980, with the Whitebird Hill project and others behind him, Kay transferred to a job with the State Highway Department headquarters in Boise. He worked in the Boise office 11 years, retiring in 1991. During this time, Kay and Lasetta went separate ways, and he eventually married Patti Joseph. Their son lives at the family home in Boise. Though Patti and Kay eventually divorced also, they became and remained best friends. Patti assisted him during his final illness from complications of lung cancer.
Kay is survived by seven children: Anita (Randy) Portrey of Spokane; Holly Montgomery of Missoula; Connie Montgomery of Seattle; Sara (Scott) Coy of Cheney; Misti Montgomery of Portland; Chad Montgomery of Valdez; and William Montgomery of Boise. Kay's step-daughter, Tawna Bayless Barck (David) Barck also survives him, as well as Lasetta Montgomery and Patti Montgomery. June McHone Estes predeceased him in 2011.
We will miss our sometimes cantankerous, sometimes tender father with his dry wit and stubborn insistence on doing life his way, a characteristic that carried him well through 84 years of life adventures.
A viewing will be held at the Cloverdale Funeral Home from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, October 25, 2013. A graveside service will be held at Dry Creek Cemetery on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. Anyone who knew Kay is welcome to attend. For written condolence messages, go online to Cloverdale Cemetery's website: www.cloverdalefuneralhome.com. Donations may be made to a
Cloverdale Funeral Home
1200 North Cloverdale Road Boise, ID 83713
Published in Idaho Statesman on Oct. 24, 2013